Feast of the Translation of the Relics of Saint Thomas Aquinas, the Angelic Doctor

The Translation refers to the relic in Toulouse.  

The great luminary of the Church, Saint Thomas Aquinas, departed this life at the Benedictine Abbey of Fossa Nuova, when on his way to the General Council of Lyons, and his sacred remains were in- terred there until such time as the Master-General of the Dominicans should determine to what Convent they were to be removed. The Benedictines were resolved not to part with the treasure; hence they secretly removed the body by night from the cloister where it had been buried and laid it in the Chapel of Saint Stephen. But the Holy Doctor would not suffer that those who came from all parts to implore his intercession should offer their supplications at an empty tomb. He therefore appeared to the Abbot, reproved him severely for what he had done, and threatened him with chastisement if his remains were not restored to their first resting-place. The Abbot obeyed, and, taking a few of the monks into his con- fidence, proceeded with the utmost secrecy to a fresh translation of the body. But the moment the tomb was opened there issued forth a most sweet odour, which spread itself throughout the Convent and brought the entire community to the church to ascertain whence it came. The body was found to be in a state of per- fect preservation, both on this occasion and at another translation seven years later, when it was laid in a marble tomb by the side of the high altar.

Fourteen years after the death of the Saint the monks gave his right hand to his sister, the Countess Jul 4 of San Severin and this precious relic became, later on, the property of the Dominican Convent at Salerno, where it is still preserved incorrupt. The monks then presented the head of Saint Thomas to the Count of Pipemo, and in the year 1349, hearing that a celebrated bandit had formed the sacrilegious project of stealing and selling the body of the Saint, they en- trusted the remainder of the sacred relics to the keeping of the Count of Fondi. After some time Saint Thomas appeared to this nobleman and threatened him with the vengeance of God if he did not give up his body to the Brethren of his own Order. This was accordingly done ; but the monks of Fossa Nuova were by no means prepared to relinquish their claim to the possession of the sacred relics. They carried their complaints before Pope Urban V., himself a member of the Benedictine Order. His Holiness testified extreme displeasure at what had been done, and commanded the Master-General of the Dominican Order to restore the body of Saint Thomas to the monks of Fossa Nuova. In vain did the Master- General represent the earnest desire of the Dominican Order to possess the relics of the greatest of its sons : Urban was inexorable. A few days later, on the Festival of Corpus Christi, the General ventured to renew his entreaties. Reminding his Holiness that the Church was indebted to Saint Thomas for the beautiful Office recited on that feast, he begged that his relics might rest amongst his own Brethren, who would show them more honour than any one else.

The Pope hesitated for a few moments ; then in the most solemn manner he gave judgment in the following terms: ''By the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and ours, we give and grant the body of the Blessed Thomas of Aquin, professed religious of the Order of Preachers, to you, the Master-General, and to the said Order, to be kept either at Toulouse or at Paris, as shall seem good to the next General Chapter and to the Master-General of the Order ; in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." And all the bystanders answered, "Amen." On the following day, however, the Pope decided the question in favour of Toulouse, where he had himself founds a university.

In virtue of this permission, the holy body was brought from Fondi and the head from Pipemo, and thence both were conveyed with the utmost caution to France. The journey from Gaeta to Prouille, where the holy body was first deposited, occupied two months, and many miracles took place on the way. " It was evident," says an old chronicler, that Saint Thomas went where it pleased him." After remaining for a month at Prouille the precious remains were brought to the Convent of the Order of Saint Dominic at Toulouse on January 28, A.D. 1369, more than 50,000 persons coming out to meet them, bearing lighted tapers, whilst 10,000 carried large torches round the bier. The canopy over the relics was borne by the Duke of Anjou, brother to the King of France, and by other persons of the highest rank. In that same year an arm of the Holy Doctor was detached from the body and deposited with great solemnity in the Dominican Church of Saint James in Paris, where the Saint had taught with so much applause ; and, a few years later, another considerable relic was given to his beloved Convent of Saint Dominic at Naples.

Thus the remains of the Angelic Doctor at length reposed in peace, according to his desire, in the midst of his Brethren, until the evil days of the French Revolution, when the Dominicans were driven from their Convent of Toulouse. The sacred remains were then transferred for greater safety to the crypt of the Church of Saint Semin, where sacrilegious hands were soon laid on the costly reliquaries wherein they were con- tained. During the present century the relics of the Holy Doctor have undergone several translations into more suitable reliquaries and to more honourable places in the same Church. At the translation in the year 1852, the sermon was preached by P^re Henri- Dominique Lacordaire, the restorer of the Dominican Order in France ; and in the last, which took place in the year 1878, the Archbishop of Toulouse was assisted by the Vicar-General of the Order, the Most Rev. Father Sanvito.

This day is regarded as the special festival of the Confraternity of the Angelic Warfare or Girdle of Saint Thomas Aquinas.

O God, who makest Thy Church glorious through the wonderful learning of Blessed Thomas, Thy Con- fessor and Doctor, and renderest it fruitful by his holy actions, grant us, we beseech Thee, clearly to understand his teachings and faithfully to imitate his example. Through Christ our Lord. Amen

Here a list of the main relics.

First Class Relics 

Couvent des Jacobins (Convent of the Jacobins) Place des Jacobins 31000 Toulouse, France 

*From 1274 to 1369 the remains of St Thomas Aquinas rested in Fossanova, Italy. In 1369 they were transferred to the Convent of the Jacobins in Toulouse, France. They remained here until the French Revolution. At this time they were moved for their protection a few blocks away to the Basilica of St Sernin in Toulouse. From 1789 to 1974 they remained within this church. Finally, in 1974 in honor of the 700th anniversary of the death of St Thomas Aquinas the relics were returned to the Convent of the Jacobins in Toulouse. They now rest within a bronze chest placed under an altar in this church. 

Cattedrale di Aquino (Cathedral of Aquino) Piazza San Tommaso d’Aquino 03031 Aquino, Italy 

*In 1963 the Archbishop of Toulouse, Gabriel Marie Garrone, gave to this church a small rib bone of St Thomas Aquinas. *This relic is carried in procession every year on the evening of March 7th. 

San Domenico Maggiore (Saint Dominic the Greater) Piazza San Domenico Maggiore 8 80134 Naples, Italy 

* St Thomas Aquinas lived in this priory from 1272-1274. Preserved within his cell is the miraculous crucifix that exclaimed, “You have written well of me, Thomas.” Also located here is a bone from his left arm. Access to this cell is only given by special permission. Churches of Honor Parrocchia 

Santa Annunziata (Parish of the Holy Annunciation) Via della Chiesa 6 Roccasecca, Italy 

*This church is just below the castle where St Thomas Aquinas was born.  Presently this castle is in a state of ruin. However, a nice boardwalk allows easy access to the area. 

Abbazia di Fossanova (Abbey of Fossanova) Via San Tommaso D’Aquino 1 04015 Priverno, Latina, Italy 

*St Thomas Aquinas was passing through this area on his way to the Council of Lyon. As he approached Fossanova he became deathly ill and was forced to stop. The monks at the Abbey of Fossanova took St Thomas in and cared for him until his death. For some years after his death his bones remained at this abbey and rested in the main sanctuary of the church. They were later moved in 1369 to Toulouse, France as noted above. 

Church of Honour in Rome 

Santa Sabina (Saint Sabina) Piazza Pietro d'Illiria 1 Rome, Italy 

*This church is located on the Aventine Hill just south of Circo Massimo. 

*St Thomas Aquinas lived here in 1265 when he opened a house of studies at Santa Sabina to teach theology to Dominican students. It was also around this time that he began to write the Summa Theologica. 

*One of the oldest depictions of the crucifixion in Christian art is located on the uppermost left panel of the left entrance door. This wooden door dates back to the year 430 AD. (Note: This is not the entrance off of the street but the entrance from the narthex.)

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